Hopefully without sounding too insane, I love organising and planning! Lists are one of my favourite things to make! I’ll write a list at the beginning of the week of everything I need to do and then make lists daily of specific things for that day, all the while crossing of things from the weekly list. When it comes to organising my husband and I with breakfast, lunches and dinner it’s no different- I have been menu planning for years so I’m sure this will be a time-saver in the coming months when a newborn is introduced to the family.
*on a side note- yes I do make my husband’s lunch- he doesn’t work anywhere near a cafe or a shopping centre- and as you will see, menu planning ensures he has something (somewhat) healthy to eat instead of grabbing fast food.
My menu planning regime is very simple.
My first recommendation is to list everything you have in your pantry, freezer and fridge. You don’t have to do this every week, but when you initially take the jump to start menu planning you’ll want to know what you have- for example you may have been buying spaghetti noodles every time you go shopping and you now have 4 packets, or you may have a can of chickpeas from a year ago sitting in your pantry.
Before you even start to plan for the coming week or month try to use up the things you forgot you had! Our goal is to reduce any hoarding and over- buying, essentially saving money!
There are websites which can help you find recipes for those ingredients you have stockpiled such as Supercook and Foodwise.
Next, you’re going to want to create a template or system for planning that works for you. Because there are only two of us (and generally we can eat the same things) I menu plan like the below:
L- Chicken and Salad
D- Spaghetti with meatballs
If we have something to attend at night I will make a note of it so I know to cook our dinner for the following night the night before:
L- Chicken and Salad
D- (Music Practice) Spaghetti with meatballs
Don’t be afraid of leftovers and having them the next day for lunch. No one wants to eat the same meal 3 nights in a row, but by accounting for the same meal one more time that week (if you were to make spaghetti on Tuesday night, it would last till Thursday lunch)- it will help with wastage and planning.
Next, I go through my menu meal by meal and write down the ingredients I will need (example in the above picture). I categorise these by Diary, Fresh, Meat etc because that’s generally how the grocery store is set up that we go to. You can categorise them whichever way works easiest for you.
Of course I add things after this to the list that I know we need- cereal, bread, museli bars but essentially I have my main meals accounted for. Do I forget things- yep! Do I purchase something I don’t need because it’s on sale or my unborn baby is telling me I need it- yep! But overall, menu planning can be exciting and budget saving!
I have created a free template for how I menu plan here. I’ve also added a printable template for a grocery list here. There are a few templates that I came across which are slightly different which may work for you (photos are hyperlinked):
My last tip (that we definitely implement) is consolidating cooking. For example, this week we had BBQ lamb on Tuesday night- I also had Greg BBQ the chicken for Wednesday and Thursday’s meal. This saved on cooking time for me, as well as having the meals ready a lot faster when needed as opposed to waiting for the meat to bake that night.
Hopefully you have read through some helpful tips that you can implement to make life easier!